How Do I Help a Child Involved in Bullying? Show Notes from Justice For Nate

girl with paint on faceiStock_000063932169_MediumLast April I had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed on Thrive Global Network in response to a death of Nate Wombles
Unfortunately many children and even adults are involved in the bullying cycle.

Many parents feel stuck  if their child is involved in a bullying situation. How do you teach your child to respond without egging on the child who bullies?

What is Bullying, and What do I do about it?

Bullying is aggressive, threatening behavior by one child or adult towards another child/adult. The whole goal of the bully is to gain power or control over a person who they perceive is weaker than them.

Bullying can be verbal, emotional or physical or through technology, called “Cyberbullying.”

(http://www.stopbullying.gov/)(http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/understanding_bullying.html)

Bullying can occur either by one person or groups. Groups of bullies may also be called gangs.

Bullying is not just for kids, bullying can occur at any age, even into adulthood.

What roles do people play in a bullying situation?

There are different roles students play in a bullying situation.

The person doing the bullying

The person being bullied

Someone who is both bullied and being a bully towards others.

Those who defend or stand up for the person being bullied.

Those who assist the bully.

Those who reinforce the bully by becoming bystanders.

A person can both be the victim of bullying and also bully others at the same time.

What are signs a child is being bullied?

Signs a child may be a bullying victim are:

Unexplained bruises, scrapes or marks

Changes in behavior such as eating habits, nightmares, stomach aches, making excuses to not go to school, ride the bus.

Unexplained  damage or loss of belongings

Child coming home hungry

Changes in grades

Child becomes sad, anxious, angry, or depressed

Child beginds withdrawing from others

Stops hanging around friends

Sources:  http://www.stopbullying.gov/“Bullies are a pain in the brain”, and www.Safechild.net

What do I do if I think my child is being bullied?

What parents can do if a child is being bullied:

  • Address the situation immediately.
  • If you’re not sure communicate with your child by stating the changes you’ve noticed and asking what happened. http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It
  • Role play ways to respond to the bully with your child.
  • Listen to your child when they want to talk about it.
  • Don’t encourage the child to ignore it or fight back
  • Encourage confidence and assertive communication
  • Talk to your child about who to tell if they are being bullied, create a safety plan with your child.
  • If the school is involved, allow school officials to address the other parents rather than calling them yourself
  • Seek counseling for your child if he or she is in distress (anxious, depressed, withdrawing, etc…)

What your child can co if he or she is being bullied.

The main thing to teach your child about preventing bullying is how to show confidence.

  • Don’t cry, and stay calm (crying gives them satisfaction)
  • Stay away from groups of bullies/gangs
  • Tell an adult if they see weapons, are being teased/bullied, you can help your child make a list of people they can go to
  • Go a different way than the bullies if having to walk home or go to a different part of the playground
  • Spend time with other friends
  • Run away from the situation if they are after them, preferably to an adult he or she trusts.
  • Tell their friends, friends can even help stand up for them.
  • Stick up for him or her self by using a confident voice “I don’t like….”
  • Practice what to say
  • Remember the bully wants power, it is more about their need for power than about you
  • If a child is alone and the bully wants their stuff, teach them to give it to them and leave the situation.

Some don’ts when dealing with bullies (Romain)

  • Don’t cry
  • Stay calm
  • Don’t ignore
  • Don’t taunt the bully.
  • Don’t beg the bully not to hurt you.
  • Don’t believe the names they call you are think negative about yourself
  • Name call back or agree with them
  • Try to fight back

What can bystanders do to help bullying?

“Research shows that bystanders intervene only 20% of the time, but when they do, bullying  stops about 50% of the time,” Bazelon said.

Even the smallest act of intervention can work wonders, she added. “Bystanders can help in many ways, simply by standing with the victim or touching their shoulder during an incident, or even by sending a supportive text or calling them on the phone afterward.” http://info.character.org/blog/bid/177221/Be-More-Than-a-Bystander-Speak-Up-Against-Bullying-and-Violence

  • Stand up for the person being bullied
  • Don’t give bullying an audience
  • Help the child being bullied get away without getting yourself in harms way.
  • Tell a trusted adult
  • Be friends

What teachers and schools and organizations can do if bullying is occurring:

First get the facts from multiple sources.

  • Listen to those involve without judgement or labeling
  • Separate children involved
  • Make sure person doing bullying knows what the problem is
  • Identify reasons child may have bullied
  • Have clear consequences:
  • have class discussion, role play situations
  • Attempt to help children make amends
  • stopbullying.gov has several tips on involving person doing bullying in consequences , including apology letters, doing good deeds, and what to stay away from
  • Provide opportunites for bullying education

Signs your child is bullying other children:

  • Gets into frequent arguments or fights with others
  • Is angry
  • Blames others for their problems
  • Unexplained new belongings or money
  • Frequent trips to the principle’s office at school.

There is a quiz at the end of Bullies are a Pain in the Brain to screen if your child is bullying others.

What to do if your child is bullying others?

  • Don’t get defensive, take responsibility for your child.
  • Talk to your child to tell you what happened and listen to their side.
  • Try to find out the issue your child is dealing with that led to the bullying behavior.
  • Set limits.
  • Apply consequences to the behavior
  • Provide alternatives to aggressive behavior.
  • Ask your child how you can help.
  • Seek professional help for your child if necessary to deal with the source of the issue.

Why do people bully others? According to stompoutbullying.org

  • Power and Control is the main issue surrounding bullying behavior
  • Sometimes someone else is also bullying the child
  • Child may be having difficulties at home or have experienced abuse, neglect or witnessed aggressive behavior themselves
  • To avoid getting bullied
  • For social power
  • Some plan their bullying and are liked by others but not their victims

Why don’t kids tell?

stopbullying.gov reported on the Indicators of School Crime and safety that bullying is reported to adults less than 40% of the time

  • Feeling helpless
  • Fear or intimidation by others
  • Not wanting to be seen as a tattletale
  • Feelings of isolation and withdrawal

What are the risk factors for being bullied?

It’s important to note that while these are risk factors, not all children with these characteristics are bullied.

  • Seen as quiet or different by other children
  • Difficulty speaking up for themselves
  • Difficulty with peer relationships
  • Are anxious, depressed or low self esteeme

What are the risk factors for bullying?

There are two types of those who bully defined by stopbullying.gov

Those whose goals are concerned with popularity, power, control.

Those who are more isolated, have low self esteem, less involved in school, less social involvement with peers.

Other risk factors include:

  • Are aggressive
  • More difficulties at home
  • View violence as a way to handle their problems
  • Less involvement from parents,
  • Negative view of others
  • Difficulty following rules
  • Have friends who bully

What are the long term consequences of bullying?

  • A NY Times article summaries a study by the JAMA network on psychiatry that found long term consequences of childhood bullying into young adulthood.
  • Young adults were interviewed/assessed on which role they played in the bullying scenario and placed into different groups
  • Outcomes included increased anxiety and panic for those who were victims, increased panic for those who were both bullies and victims and increased instance of adult antisocial behavior for those who were bullies but not victims.

“A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.” www.stopbullying.org

Resources and links

“Bullies are a Pain in the Brain” written and illustrated by Trevor Romain

“Cyber Bullying Not More” by Holli Kenley, MA

stopbullying.gov

http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It

http://safechild.org/categoryparents/preventing-bullying/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/effects-of-bullying-last-into-adulthood-study-finds/

http://acestoohigh.com/2015/03/02/bullying-starts-early-with-parents-and-babies/

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/understanding_bullying.html

How to Talk to Children About Tragedies in the News: Wisdom from the Late Mr. Rogers

The recent tragedy in Boston may leave parents wondering how to address devestating news with young children. While I want so much to shield my own child from these horrible disasters in the news, it is realistic that he may hear about it from some other sources. I think Mr. Rogers addresses these issues the best.

Fred Rogers Talks about Tragedies in the News

Mr. Rogers: Look for the Helpers

Huffington Post: Article Highlighting Wisdom from Mr. Rogers

 

My Top 10 Favorite Gifts for the Play Therapy Room

 

As a play therapist people are always asking me what I need to complete my play therapy room, which of course I answer a play room is never really done.  Here is a list of  10 items to give your play therapist this Christmas. Play therapists, feel free to add your top favorite gifts for your playroom in the comments!
1. Sandtray miniatures
2. Art supplies
3. Gift cards to craft stores or toy stores
4. Dollhouse furniture
5. Children’s books or activity books
6. People (can be family figures or people in the neighborhood)
7. Puppets
9. Board games
10. Sand!
You can find these items many places online, and of course at your regular retailers, like Target and Walmart.
I like:

Benefits of Therapy – Sam Feels Better Now! An Interactive Story for Children

Read the Most Recent Review of Sam Feels Better Now! and Interactive Story for Children.

Benefits of Therapy – Sam Feels Better Now! An Interactive Story for Children

Please Explain “Anxiety” To Me by Laurie Zelinger, PHD and Jorden Zelinger

 I am always looking for ways to explain anxiety to children in a way that they will understand. I use a lot of stories in play therapy because I love the simple way that children’s books present difficult issues. That is why I am glad to have read Please Explain “Anxiety” to Me by  Laurie Zelinger, PhD, MS, RPT-S &; Jordan Zelinger, Illustrated by: Elisa Sabella. It begins by using dinasaurs to explain the “fight or flight” response and then relates what they needed to survive with the human fight or flight response. It uses easy to understand terms to help the reader to identify signs of anxiety and understand why people experience anxiety. I have read this story to adult and children who are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders. The pictures are colorful and help explain the story visually. I like how it uses a simple illustration and clear explanations of anxiety and how it affects a person. The illustrations are colorful and add to the content of the book. I definitely recommend this book to therapists and parents who need to communicate what anxiety is using concise language.

To Purchase Please Explain “Anxiety” To Me, visit your favorite bookseller:

Barnes and Noble:Available in paperback and Nook format
Amazon: Available in paperback, hardcover and kindle
Loving Healing Press

You can visit Laurie’s website and see the other books she has written and learn more about her services and background as a play therapist. I look forward to seeing future children’s books from this author.

When to worry about kids’ temper tantrums

When to worry about kids’ temper tantrums

An interesting article on how to differentiate between normal pre-school aged tantrums and something that is a clue that something more is going on.

Alison Gopnik: What do babies think?

A wonderful video about research and the way Babies and young children think and communicate.

Talking to Children about Hurricanes

Wondering how to talk to your children about preparing and the effects of hurricanes? Sesame Street has developed a hurricane tool kit to assist parents and children in talking about and preparing for a natural disaster. There are 5 videos, each discussing different aspects of preparation and also tips on dealing with the aftermath, such as having a routine, finding support, and self care. I watched several of the video clips, each about 15 minutes long, and they show realistic emotions, preparations and after effects. You can check out www.sesamestreet.org, click on the parents section and click on the tool kits tab. There are other topics addressed as well. As a therapist, I appreciate the approach that the folks at Sesame Street took on dealing with a disaster that can cause lots of instability for children and their families.

Play Therapy Works!

I stumbled across this video describing the value of play therapy for children who experience emotional and behavioral issues. Check it out, and also check out the Association for Play Therapy website for more info on play therapy and to find a play therapist

I’m a Parent Interest in Your Book, Sam Feels Better Now

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my book, Sam Feels Better Now: An Interactive Story for Children. Mostly, who will it help? Who should use this book? Do I have to be a therapist to use it? While my original intention was for this book to be used with therapists mainly, parents may also find it useful tool to use with various fears children may face, from being afraid of the dark, to being scared of bees. A good example can be found on It’s All About Play: Sam Feels Better Now Book Review. Here Sam Feels Better Now was used to help a child who was afraid of being alone. Read the review and see how this parent was able to help her child with this book.